Everybody feels down sometimes. Everyone has periods of sadness, especially following some of life’s most extreme events like a death in the family or dealing with health issues.
Even life changes that are welcome like a move, job change, new relationship, or birth of a child can cause a malaise for a time. But how do you know if you're just sad or if you are actually depressed?
There is definitely a difference between normal sadness and being diagnosed with depression.
You might be depressed if:
1) Your feelings of sadness, anger or loneliness start to overwhelm you. You may feel anxious, unworthy or like you are empty inside.
Overpowering feelings of guilt, helplessness, or hopelessness might also be part of your current state of mind. These feelings might lead you to think about suicide, or to attempt suicide.
2) You have physical manifestations of your emotional state. You might be dealing with headaches, general aches and pains, cramps, or digestive problems that aren’t solved when treated. You may also be experiencing loss of appetite or be overeating. You might suffer from fatigue and bouts of low energy.
3) Your feeling of sadness lasts for long periods of time. They last for most of the day and occur almost every day.
4) Your emotional state is keeping you from leading an active normal life. You may suffer from insomnia, may sleep excessively, or experience early-morning wakefulness. You may now reject the activities you used to find pleasurable — even sex — or your favorite activities and hobbies.
5) You aren’t able to make decisions, remember details accurately, or you may find if difficult to concentrate. You may be more irritable or restless than usual.
There is no medical test to diagnose depression. However medical experts can use a physical exam and full personal history to help make a diagnosis.
There are some illnesses and medicines for which depression can be a side effect. A family history of mental illness or depression, and past drug and alcohol abuse, is also important in helping to determine if you are experiencing depression.